Novel Manufacturing of Functionally Graded Al Matrix Composites Over Dissimilar Materials for Combustion Chambers

Period of Performance: 03/12/2000 - 02/12/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Triton Systems, Inc.
200 Turnpike Road Array
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Principal Investigator


Triton Systems, Inc. proposes to combine a novel method that enables the cost-effective manufacturing of functionally graded metal matrix composites (MMC's) for casting aluminum MMC's over dissimilar materials for fabricating advanced rocket engine combustion chambers. This unique and innovative approach leverages Triton's experience with Enhanced Pressure Infiltration Casting (EPIC), a rapid, low-cost manufacturing method for MMC's, and recently demonstrated success in casting aluminum MMC's over steel and titanium. Triton has teamed with Boeing-Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power to adapt these technologies to produce a structural jacket with integral manifolding that will be cast over a copper liner. A Triton proprietary method for the production of a functionally graded, continuous-fiber-reinforced aluminum MMC will be used to produce a near-net-shape component with integral manifolding. Additional Triton proprietary technology will be utilized to create a compatible interface between the aluminum MMC structural jacket and the copper liner. This low-cost manufacturing method, the decreased part count due to integration of the structural jacket and manifolds and the decreased system weight due to the high specific strength of aluminum, is a combination of technologies that makes the next generation of advanced rocket engine combustion chambers a reality. Increased reliability will result from the integration of the structural jacket and manifolding due to the elimination of welded joints. The high specific strength of aluminum MMC's will enable a significant reduction in the overall weight of the structural jacket and manifolding resulting in increased thrust-to-weight. The ability to cast an aluminum MMC over a copper liner will decrease the manufacturing time and reduce the number of process steps required. These technologies can be applied to any commercial system that could benefit from a lightweight structural reinforcement, but is currently limited due to material incompatibility.